Before it turns 70 this November, El Cortez is getting all gussied up. On Sept. 1 the new Parlour Bar & Lounge debuts at the heart of the casino floor. The redundantly named Lounge Bar has undergone a tasteful overhaul, leaving intact classic touches including the brass ceiling panels and the vintage rope lights. Otherwise, it’s a whole new bar.
Gone is the horseshoe bar. Instead, guests can choose between small groupings of leather club chairs and sofas with cocktail tables or the seven-stool granite gaming bar. Warm chandelier lighting plays off smoked mirrors and shows off the deeply stained wood finishes. Velvet curtains can be closed or drawn back to reveal the room to the casino. “It’s timeless and rich, yet you won’t necessarily know that this is a new bar,” says Alexandra Epstein, executive manager.
At the bar, a classic cocktail menu offers libation of the Ramos Gin Fixx, Brandy Alexander and Singapore Sling variety, courtesy of Southern Wine & Spirits’ mixology director Armando Rosario. Nothing is off the liquor gun; every spirit is premium or super-premium.
So is the average El Cortez loyal ready for $8 cocktails? Yes, says food and beverage director John Civitello. He’s been testing out prices, menus and promotions on the property, and he is confident the customer sees the quality. This will also close the gap between the traditionally price-sensitive casino barfly and the more brand- and image-conscious Fremont East imbiber.
El Cortez’s restoration began five years ago with the creation of Jackie Gaughan Plaza and the casino’s new porte-cochere. Next came The Flame Steakhouse, guest room upgrades and the Cabana Suites renovation. Following The Parlour, El Cortez will receive a paint job (pictured) and a pool at the Cabana Suites. The Parlour is just one, Epstein says, “in a series of steps El Cortez is making to be a part of the changes going on in the neighborhood.”